Electrical crews from B.C. sent to California wildfires

Electricity fhas been shut off for millions to reduce risk of fires sparked by downed wires

A firefighter battles a wildfire near a ranch in Simi Valley, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

A crew of 75 Canadian electrical technicians, mechanics and safety workers, along with all their gear, is on the way to the northern California city of Vallejo to assist as wildfires char parts of the state.

Crews from Rokstad Power, based in Coquitlam, B.C., set out Tuesday, a day after company owner and CEO Aaron Rokstad says his company was contacted by officials in California asking for help.

Forecasters in the United States say California faces an “extremely critical risk” of further wildfires as winds whip up blazes that have destroyed more than 200 homes and buildings north of Vallejo.

Power provider PG&E has been shutting off electricity for millions of customers to reduce the risk of fires sparked by downed wires.

Rokstad says his company was called because it has done contract work for U.S. utilities after other disasters such as hurricanes and his crews and trucks clogged up the border crossing for hours in a rapid deployment.

He says their duties in Vallejo will include rebuilding fire-damaged power lines in what could be round-the-clock shifts of dangerous work.

“Once the areas are deemed safe and the fires are out, we will come in behind and start rebuilding the — I guess for lack of a better word — the burnt down infrastructure, overhead power lines, towers, poles … so they can get these people’s power back on.”

Rokstad says he expects power for some northern California residents could be out for weeks.

PG&E said the power that was shut down Tuesday would affect about 1.5 million people in some 30 counties including the Sierra foothills, wine country and the San Francisco Bay Area, the Associated Press reported.

READ MORE: Los Angeles wildfire forces residents, celebrities to flee

As many as 200,000 people have been displaced in northern California and about one million people across the state are still without power from a blackout over the weekend.

No deaths have been reported from the fires, but toppled trees claimed three lives.

– With files from The Associated Press

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Wind and waves were part of the reason why the Sail Canada High Performance Team selected HMCS Quadra as the winter training base for Tokyo 2021. Photo by Ken Dool
National sailing team prepares for Olympics at HMCS Quadra in Comox

HMCS Quadra is serving as the winter training base for the Canadian… Continue reading

Courtenay residents will have a substantial schedule change for curbside trash collection beginning in January 2021. (Ben Lypka/Black Press file)
Courtenay moving to a zone system for curbside trash collection

New system means collection days will change with every statutory holiday

A jubilant Ronna-Rae Leonard salutes the crowd at her victory party at the Avalanche Bar & Grill. (photo by Scott Stanfield)
UPDATE: Leonard declared early winner for Courtenay-Comox

NDP incumbent held similar margin of lead throughout the evening

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

FILE – B.C. Lions and Toronto Argonauts owner, Senator David Braley speaks after the CFL announced Vancouver will host the 2014 Grey Cup championship football game during a news conference in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday March 8, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
BC Lions owner David Braley dead at 79

Braley had bought the CFL team prior to 1997 season

NDP Leader John Horgan speaks with the owner of a barber shop while campaigning in Pitt Meadows, B.C., on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. Campaigning was restricted by the coronavirus pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s B.C. majority came with historically low voter turnout

Barely half of eligible voters cast ballots in snap election

Jordan Jay Ward, 20, is wanted Canada-wide for manslaughter. (Calgary police photo)
RCMP: Suspicious man seen in Parksville woods resembled manslaughter suspect

Hikers say he resembled Jordan Jay Ward, wanted Canada-wide

A police pursuit ended with an arrest in Williams Lake on Highway 97 Sunday afternoon. (Facebook video screenshot)
Video catches police pursuit that ends with man kicked, punched in Williams Lake

A video of the arrest is getting widely shared on social media

Most Read